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Cheese and Sheep from Extremadura
The wide steppe of Serena has not changed since the time of knight orders: it is still a pasture land for Merino sheep. The best feta cheese of the country today comes from the south-east of Extremadura. It is laborious to produce Torta de la Serena. Just for one piece of cheese you need milk from 15 sheep.
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Driving from Villanueva de la Serena in the north-east of the province Badajoz towards Magacela, you reach the entrance to one of the most solitary and beautiful regions of Extremadura: the Serena. From the fortress Puebla de Alcocer you have a panoramic view that will make you better understand what is so unique about the Serena. It is situated exactly between the artificial channel Orellana and la Serena. The scenery has a unique and romantic atmosphere, particularly at dusk. At daytime the Serena is so calm and seems limitless.

The Serena forms the biggest steppe area of Spain. The feeling of being in the vicinity of North Africa is particularly strong here. Roads in the Serena are extremely long and are not much frequented. There are not many villages and small towns in the steppe. The unique atmosphere of the Serena is enhanced by the sheep herds and shepherds with their dogs trekking across the land. In the evening the sheep are not brought back to the stables, they live outdoors every night and day. This is a kind of transhumance management of pasture: it is the oldest way of keeping livestock in human history, which is still in practice in the Serena. Almost all societies stopped practising transhumance in the course of the 19th century. In the Serena however, herds of sheep are still trekking through the land year in year out. Shepherds vary the pasture place for their herds three of four times seasonally, depending on the availability of the fodder.

Sheep herds, which can be seen in the open spaces between Villanueva de la Serena, Zalmea de la Serena and Cabeza del Buey, enjoy the climate of Extremadura and the steppe vegetation. The long-established cheese factories manufacture the milk of the sheep into Torta de la Serena, which is also related to the very popular Torta del Casar de Caceres. Serena’s cheese factories merged in 1981 into a cooperative that today has 100 members. There are 70,000 sheep in each herd, which together provide half a million litres of milk each year. The cooperative has a strong quality control and gives seals to cheese factories that use only the four ingredients according to the traditional recipe: prickly leaves of thistle and salt. The milk of 15 sheep is necessary for producing one kilo of Torta. It must ripe for 60 days before getting the seal on the back of the package, without which it cannot be sold. The best way to savour Torta is to carefully open the cover, cut off a piece from the inner part and then seal it again. You eat Torta with a glass of dry wine and white bread. You can also eat the feta cheese in small pieces in a salad as a side dish, or as an ingredient in soups or sauces. Torta has its own fairly strong and slightly bitter taste. Thus, we recommend the cheese to people who are discovering the delicacy for the first time.

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Things to do before you travel to Spain
Extremadura’s Highlights| Art, Culture and popular Feats | Need a little bit Nature? | Extremadura’s Past | Extremadura, a country of savourers
A gift from the Gods The ancient Roman world in Extremadura | DThe vultures of Salto del Gitano. Natural and National Parks in Extremadura | Slowing down one’s Life The Felicity of Pilgrimage on the Silver Way through Extremadura | Guadiana’s good Wines Extremadura’s Wines and Gastronomy | What happens in Merida and Caceres, stays in Merida and Caceres Feasts and Festivals in Extremadura | Speaking like an Extremenian Spanish Courses in Extremadura | Putting near an Oak Tree Golf Courses and Wellness Offers in Extremadura | Over Hill and Dale. Hiking and Cycling in Extremadura | Flying through the air Ornithology in Extremadura | On the Fishing Path Angling in Extremadura | Canoeing in the town Rivers, Extremadura’s living arms | Palaces and pilgrim hostels Accommodation facilities in Extremadura | Farmers and Saints Religious tradition in Extremadura | Pork deluxe. The Iberian Pork of Extremadura | Do you know a better place to visit? Caceres has applied to be Europe’s Capital of Culture. | More than a word Sustainability and sustainable policy in Extremadura | The same sun is shining over all of us The odd fate of the small village Granadilla | They just call it “the line” Historical facts about the borderland between Spain and Portugal | Wandering through the Passage of Life The last Way of Emperor Charles V | The true life of the sword bearers Orders of knights in Extremadura | Jewish heritage must be preserved: Spanish Inquisition and its impact in Extremadura | The right behaviour in time of crisis. Learning from the Tartessos of Cancho Roano | Blossomy Treasures. Orchids in Extremadura. | The Wonder of Almendralejo Travelling Extremadura along the “wine trail” | Still moving Cheese and Sheep from Extremadura | Facing the enemies Castle complexes in Extremadura | The Holy Place of GuadalupeThe Monastery of Guadalupe and the Miraculous Image of the Virgin Mary | The short Trial between Jesus and Pilate Museums in Extremadura | Straightforward across the steppe Motorbiking in Extremadura | Exhibition instead of Defence Extremadura’s Congress Centres in Badajoz and Merida Exploring Extremadura, Spain
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